Rabbi Soloveitchik makes an interesting observation in this week’s Parsha, וישלח. The Rav explains that a great deal is learned about how the Jewish people have survived in Galut and how to interact with non-Jews.
We see from the massive gift that Yakov gave Eisav that included precious stones and pearls, that Jews are willing to give away everything to avoid expulsion or an edict. All were profane objects and Israel exhibited submissiveness and inferiority.
However, when Eisav challenged Yakov’s sacred Mitzvot like Shabbat and Kashrut, he became defiant. Over the centuries, we always won religious debates. We will compromise on the profane. We will never compromise on the spiritual.
It is interesting to also note that Rabbi Yehuda Hanassi once said that he always studied פרשת וישלח before negotiating with the Roman governor on behalf of the Jewish people. This Parsha taught how best to negotiate with the gentile. Shabbat Shalom